Monday, June 8, 2009

How We Came to Live Here - new school adventures in a southwest that never was

Last night we had a session of a distinctly new school game. How We Came to Live Here, by Brennan Taylor. What's making this game tick is a communally created village, with inside and outside threats. There's no “story”, so it's very much a sandbox way of playing. In play there will be two “game masters” so to speak, one playing outside threats and the other inside threats. The scenes are created alternately by inside and outside threats and the players of the heroes. That mean that if you want to explore the interplay between a hero and a NPC you helped create when you created the village, you can set up scenes that way. One round of scenes, or the end of the predetermined track of dice pools, is the end of the session and a period of recuperation, which might be months, take place before the next session. IT reminds me slightly of Pendragon, with its emphasis on dynastic play.

That being some overview of the rules I'd like to say something about the setting. It's supposed to be based upon the cultures of some native American cultures in present day south west USA. There's spirits, corn, a beautiful but dangerous land. In our game we have turkey eaters, a cactus woman and weird non-peoples who wants to eat our livers as our outside threats. Our game master (well, the guy who set us up with the game) have emphasized the props a lot so we have made food and other physical and tactile items a strong part of our game. It's very evocative!

Yesterday's session my character traveled to the spirit world, and I got to bargain with animal spirits and give gifts of servitude and offerings to them to get what I wanted. Even though I'm a big fan of Glorantha I have never played in Glorantha myself, but this felt like I've always imagined a good session of myth working in Glorantha to be. Very cool.

I don't have much to say about the game really. The system is using Fudge dice with a IGO/UGO attack/defend mechanic where you bring traits into play to enlarge your pools. Nothing fancy, but it works. It's a different experience from a more traditional rpg, since nobody knows what the session will be about until we start framing scenes. You could say that it's more about telling stories together by tossing your friends into a situation and then see how that situation shapes the persons and society. Have you ever felt that your heroes were suspiciously detached from their society, then this game might be for you. I'm not sure I'd say I'm a fan, but it is always interesting with games that makes you experience new dimensions in gaming.

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